News / Science & Technology

    UN: Global Warming Harms Corals Vital to Small Islands

    FILE: A U.N. report says global warming threatens coral, such as this Gorgonian sea fan. Coral reefs buffer coastlines.
    FILE: A U.N. report says global warming threatens coral, such as this Gorgonian sea fan. Coral reefs buffer coastlines.
    Reuters
    Global warming is causing trillions of dollars of damage to coral reefs, aggravating the risks to tropical small island states as sea levels rise, according to a United Nations report released Thursday.
     
    Sea levels off some western Pacific islands rose by four times the global average, with annual gains of 1.2 cms (0.5 inch) from 1993 to 2012, according to the U.N.’s Environment Program.
     
    Release of the study, "Emerging Issues for Small Island Developmeng States, was timed to mark the U.N.'s World Environment Day on June 5. It came during U.N. climate change talks taking place June 4-15 in this western German city. 

    Warming waters from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean are damaging reefs by killing the tiny animals whose stony skeletons form them, the report said.
     
    A toll on atolls

    "These 52 nations, home to over 62 million people, emit less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gasses, yet they suffer disproportionately from the climate change that global emissions cause," said Achim Steiner, head of UNEP.
     
    "Some islands could become uninhabitable and others are faced with the potential loss of their entire territories," the study said.

    Loss of coral takes a costly economic toll, the report said. Coral reefs help protect coasts from storms, serve as nurseries for many types of fish and also attract tourists.

    In Grenada, fishermen are reporting fewer and smaller "catches in areas where there once was a thriving trade," said Roland Bhola, the country's environment minister, who is participating in the talks.
     
    "We have been able to associate that with the issues of climate change ... the destruction of our coral reefs and other ecosystems like mangroves,” he said.

    Threatened ecosystems
     

    A study last month estimated that each hectare (2.5 acres) of the world's coral reefs provided services worth $350,000 a year.
     
    "Corals .. are probably the most threatened ecosystems on the planet," Robert Costanza, of the Australian National University and lead author of the study, told Reuters.
     
    Some people on small islands are considering moving inland because rising sea levels are causing erosion and bringing more salt onto farmland, said Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist of UNEP.
     
    "But many of them don't have places to retreat towards," she said.

    Greenhouse gases blamed
     
    The U.N. panel of climate scientists in March said it is at least 95 percent probable that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of a rise in average world temperatures.
     
    "Addressing climate change ... is absolutely vital to the survival of small island states," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a news conference.
     
    The report said small islands could shift to abundant solar and wind power to help cut fuel import bills, which are often between 5 and 20 percent of gross domestic product.
     
    “We are doing what we can,” said Marshall Islands Environment Minister Tony de Brum, citing plans to invest in solar energy. His nation also has the world's largest shark sanctuary as part of efforts to protect nature, he added.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mayuyu from: Nagasaki AKB
    June 07, 2014 7:12 PM
    Sea leve rise 1.2cms for about 10 years, and it means 12cms for 100 years. Go away from the sea side right now ! Big 12cms TSUNAMI is coming for 100 years!

    This article means that kind of things.

    But, , , Do you know sea level is up and down around 100cms in one day because of tide rising?

    by: Stanley from: PIttsburgh, PA
    June 07, 2014 4:07 PM
    Amazing. They must be pretty sure taking CO2 out of the atmosphere will fix it. Or the change is coming. IE the cool off cycle has already begun. Take a gander at ocean temperatures provide by the "unbiased" EPA data. Amazed me they actually posted it.

    by: Joe from: Paris, France
    June 06, 2014 6:08 PM
    It's called "tectonic plate shifting." The UN deliberately ignores the second most powerful force on Earth after gravity because well, they cannot tax the Earth.

    Most of these islands are actually sinking due to shifting plates (subduction), the plate basically folds under and is melted back into the Earth; rather than the sea level rising due to global warming. Just look on a plate map.

    by: floyd howard jr from: Foley Al. USA
    June 06, 2014 10:04 AM
    Dems are trying to legislate a narrative change hurting the American people in the process! All Democrats and supporters here and abroad, are trying to flood the media with hysterical climate change & global warming alarms to take the heat off Dem candidates in the November 2014 and 2016 elections due to the train wreck of Obamacare! They shout, scream, cry, make outlandish claims and won't stop till after the elections! Poor Democrats! The tsunami cometh!

    by: GuyBB from: KCMO
    June 06, 2014 8:30 AM
    Climate change is indeed a problem for small islands. Simply because the climate is always changing. However, the change to the name of AGW to climate change, is an incideous, and pernicious assault on truth. None of the coral reefs in existence today where alive 12,000 years ago, simply because during the Ice Age, they were hundreds of feet above sea level.

    What they really mean when they say "climate change" is not the known fact, that climate is always changing, but rather the implication that it is in fact climate changed by man. Worse? These idiots have no schedule for their fearmongering, because every time they have given a timetable, they've been WRONG!

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